Press Article by Bruce Tajinere Ijirigho, Ph.D
Dear Friend and Sports Lover,
I emerged from a very poor and humble background in a little village of less than 100 people in Nigeria to become a two time track and field Olympian during my career as an athlete. To achieve this feat, I received moral support from my family, encouragement from many teachers, donated sports equipment from unknown organizations, scholarship from appreciative school principals, monetary stipends from people I never met, and finally an athletic scholarship from a University in the United States which exposed me to world class coaching and facilities. The life story of most members of the Nigerian International Athletes Association (NIAA) has followed a similar path. Today, we are successful professionals and good citizens making meaningful contributions to society.
The youths of today are faced with even better opportunities to become scholars and international athletic stars. Instead, their situation is hopeless while the decadent state of sports in Nigeria has exceeded epidemic proportions in a country so well blessed with incredible raw talent. Feeling very disenfranchised, and deciding that enough was enough, we decided it was time to emulate the great American tradition of “giving back”. Consequently, the NIAA was founded in 2000 to combat the problem of sports demise in Nigeria and to provide needy and disadvantaged youths in Nigeria and the USA with the resources and support to achieve their God given potential in Education and Sports. Since its inception the NIAA has recorded the following modest achievements:
- In November 2003 The NIAA organized a 5K run to raise funds for Hope Farms of Dallas, A home for 5-12 year old boys from poor single family homes.
- The NIAA has established an annual scholarship program for secondary school students in Nigeria who demonstrate great promise in sports and education.
- Awarded scholarships to student athletes in Nigeria and the USA
- The NIAA has formalized a program for recruiting talented student athletes from Nigeria and placing them in U.S. universities on scholarship.
- The NIAA has completed a “Master Plan for the Development of Sports at the Grassroots level in Nigeria”
The NIAA’s goal is to continue the award of scholarships and secure the funding to implement the grassroots sports development program in 2007. We believe strongly that this program will be the “factory” for producing future collegiate, Olympic and world Champions for Nigeria. It will cost a little over 2 million U.S. dollars annually to start the “factory” and keep it in perpetual production. Nothing this worthwhile and of this magnitude can be achieved without the financial support of well meaning people and organizations of like mind. We need your financial and moral support to make this a reality. The NIAA has various categories of financial support for its sponsors. I urge you to support us with your funds, no matter how small and help us to bring hope to today’s youths who will become tomorrows Champions.
Bruce Tajinere Ijirigho, Ph.D.